Green Bay Packers’ next opponent: Depleted Dolphins struggling after 3-0 start
The Green Bay Packers return home to Lambeau Field for the first time since Oct. 15 and their run through playoff-caliber teams continues as the Miami Dolphins head to town at 5-4 and in the AFC wild-card hunt. After a 3-0 start, however, the Dolphins are 2-4 as they’ve dealt with injuries at quarterback and wide receiver.
Basics on the Dolphins
The Dolphins have hit the skids since a 3-0 start and they were able to pull out of it by playing the New York Jets for the second time. They allowed just six points to the Sam Darnold-led Jets and scored a defensive touchdown in an uninspiring 13-6 victory.
Hired in 2016, Adam Gase brought a version of the Ray Perkins/Ron Erhardt system to Miami, which means it’s a system very much like what the Packers have seen the last few weeks. His first coordinator was Clyde Christensen and this season it is Dowell Loggains.
On defense, coordinator Matt Burke is considered an emerging talent and runs a traditional 4-3 scheme. He comes from the Jim Schwartz/Gunther Cunningham tree and also spent time under Paul Guenther in Cincinnati.
Touchdown passes thrown by Brock Osweiler the last two weeks.
Dolphins' record against the NFC North, with a win over Chicago and a loss to Detroit.
Age of Dolphins running back Frank Gore. Mike McCarthy called plays in San Francisco for Gore back in his rookie year in 2005.
Players to watch
Jakeem Grant, WR/KR
With an injury to Albert Wilson and with DeVante Parker having fallen out of favor, Grant has emerged as a target for the Dolphins. On special teams, he has returned one kick for a touchdown and is averaging 32.3 yards per kick return and 16.3 yards per punt return. He hasn’t caught a touchdown pass since Week 3, but is averaging 12.8 yards per reception.
Kiko Alonso, LB
The 28-year-old is having a solid season and is always around the ball. He has three interceptions and six passes defensed and has also forced three fumbles. He already has 83 combined tackles as well. Alonso doesn’t have a sack, but he has done it all elsewhere for the Dolphins.
Robert Quinn, DE
On paper, the 28-year-old defensive end is a disappointment with one sack in nine starts. Perhaps he’s done in his eighth year. But, what bears watching is this – Quinn has 63.5 career sacks, two Pro Bowls and one All-Pro selection under his belt. He had 8.5 sacks a year ago with the Los Angeles Rams and has three double-digit sack seasons. He will be going up against David Bakhtiari, but Aaron Rodgers has been sacked 23 times.
Reasons to worry
Dolphins head coach Adam Gase is part of the newer wave of offensive-minded head coaches and he can scheme up issues for a defense with his skill-position players. The ageless Frank Gore leads the team in rushing with 438 yards and is averaging 4.2 yards per carry. Kenyan Drake is averaging 4.8 yards per rush, so Miami will set up the run. Then, they’ll try to free up receivers Jakeem Grant, Danny Amendola and Kenny Stills to catch and run. Stills and Grant have as many touchdowns as any Packers receiver playing Sunday outside of Davante Adams. And while the talented DeVante Parker is in Gase’s doghouse and has rarely played, if he is on the field he too is a big-play threat.
Reasons to relax
The Dolphins' offense is not very good and they’ve been trying to keep things together on that side of the ball with duct tape. Brock Osweiler has started four straight games in relief of injured starter Ryan Tannehill, but even if Tannehill is able to come back the Packers' defense should be able to overcome any injuries to starters Blake Martinez, Kentrell Brice and Kevin King. Osweiler and Tannehill have turned the ball over eight times and have been sacked 21 times. The Dolphins are 29th in the league in first downs, 28th in yards, 27th in third-down conversion percentage and 24th in points. They also had two offensive linemen get hurt against the Jets on Sunday.
Defensively, the Dolphins’ collective numbers are among the worst in the league (No. 26 in total defense, No. 28 against the run, No. 22 against the pass) and three of their five wins have come against the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders. In their six games not against those two teams, the defense has allowed 31.2 points per game. Star safety Reshad Jones took himself out of the game Sunday for some reason, and it’s unknown at this point if he’ll be around to play.
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